Hollywood has a new outlet for live theater. The Basement at Mack Sennett Studios will inaugurate its new space with the premiere of Salome, “a radically queer reinvention” of the 1891 play by Oscar Wilde, newly adapted by CHRISTOPHER ADAMS-COHEN, directed by Patrick Kennelly. Adams-Cohen recalls the process.
“I was intensely studying Oscar Wilde’s play Salome while I was still an undergrad at UCLA. I was really drawn to this character, but there was something off about it. What began creeping into my brain was that [Salome] wasn’t a woman at all. He is the gay man’s fantasy of the ultimate femme fatale. That was my jumping off point. I am very spiritually connected to this play. My work is not so much an adaptation as it is a dialogue with Oscar Wilde’s text. But it is also very much its own story. I have been developing the text for two years and I have been slowly building the team around it as I’ve progressed. It is a little bit in your face. It is very sexual… all about power, and it takes you to some very dark places. It has been a process of declaring a really fearless theme. The play has a six-member ensemble—four men and two women. I am proud that we are going to be the first stage production at The Basement, which is a really stunning, gorgeous space… full of ghosts. We have been transforming it into a proper theater. We’re putting in a full grid. The set includes a bathtub that will have running water. The seating is intimate, around 79 [seats]. It will be very environmental. The audience will be sitting right in the middle of the set, with the actors. We begin previews on January 30 and we open February 5.”
Julio Martinez-hosted Arts in Review—celebrating the best in theater and cabaret in the Greater Los Angeles area—airs Fridays (2-2:30pm) on KPFK (90.7FM).